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The Steelpan - National Instrument of Trinidad & Tobago - Official Statement from Pan Trinbago

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - Pan Trinbago has taken note of the renewed call by some in our society for another National Musical Instrument. We have seen the various opinions expressed and as the Governing Body for STEELPAN, we here state our position on the matter.

In order for an instrument to be considered to be a National Musical Instrument, it should be (a) indigenous to the country and (b) musical i.e. able to play the songs of the country.

We know of no other musical instrument in Trinidad and Tobago that satisfies these two (2) criteria other than THE STEELPAN.

We, therefore, state categorically that THE STEELPAN is the ONLY NATIONAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT.

That persons should consider and present another instrument to be accepted as a national musical instrument, even as it does not satisfy the criteria betrays a non-acceptance of THE STEELPAN. That the instrument(s) being presented is of perceived and questionable Indian origin, betrays a belief that STEELPAN is African. It also betrays a notion of affirmative action, meaning that if STEELPAN is African, then there must be something Indian. The puerility of this idea does not deserve even our censure.

STEELPAN is the musical instrument that was inspired, born, bred, developed, refined and matured in this country and propagated throughout the world in over fifty (50) countries. It has given Trinidad and Tobago an identity that no other country can claim, as evidenced by the distinctive STEELPAN Logo on the emblems of our National Organizations and World Events hosted by us. It was proclaimed the NATIONAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO on 30th August, 1992.

We believe that it is not enough to simply proclaim THE STEELPAN as the NATIONAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, but also a protocol and a policy must stand beside that proclamation, and we have invited the Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism to work with us to develop these tenets.

This statement must not be construed as a defence of THE STEELPAN as we do not consider the calls (for another National Musical Instrument) to be an attack.

Rather, it is a statement of education and affirmation as we consider the calls to be mis-informed, un-informed and anti-national. How could a Trinidadian and/or Tobagonian consider and present instrument(s) of Middle Eastern origins to be a NATIONAL INSTRUMENT of this country? In the fiftieth (50th) year of Independence we at Pan Trinbago as representative of ALL PAN PEOPLE, pledge our organization and all that we do to the glory of our nation, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.

From:  Pan Trinbago

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